Rheumatology is an excellent career choice for those who enjoy the challenges of clinical medicine.

It offers clinical diversity and career flexibility with opportunities to develop practical skills in joint injection and musculoskeletal ultrasound.

The specialty is also ideally suited to the development of subspecialty clinical, academic or educational interests and high levels of job satisfaction are reported by UK rheumatologists.

Rheumatology - trainee characteristics

Rheumatology will suit trainees who are:

  • stimulated by the challenges of diagnosis, and treatment of diverse conditions affecting a wide range of systems and age groups

  • interested in the link between basic science research, disease aetiology and development of 'cutting edge' therapeutic agents

  • committed and motivated to support patients with chronic disease.

Working/training in an ST3 rheumatology post

Rheumatology is one of the most exciting and varied medical specialties.

The rheumatologist relies heavily on basic clinical skills to diagnose diverse conditions ranging from regional soft tissue problems, to complex multisystem diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue disorders and systemic vasculitis.

The clinical skills of the rheumatologist are widely respected and often called upon when faced with the most complex diagnostic challenges.

Team-based working is the norm in rheumatology, thus promoting a supportive environment for trainees.

Opportunities for diversifying training

There are numerous opportunities to develop sub-specialty interests in clinical, scientific or educational fields, and many rheumatologists become national and international leaders in each of these areas.

There are extensive opportunities for collaborative working with colleagues in primary & secondary care and the scientific community.

Most of the workload is planned outpatient and day case based, and as such lends itself to an excellent work-life balance.


ST3 rheumatology posts are competitive and attract high calibre trainees.

While prior experience in rheumatology is desirable, demonstrating a commitment to the specialty is essential.

Dual training

On appointment to an ST3 post, all trainees now must undertake a five-year programme to dual accredit with general internal medicine (GIM). It is no longer possible to undertake a four-year training programme in pure rheumatology.

Upon completion of training, about 70% of consultants in the UK currently practise pure rheumatology. The requirement of trainees to dual accredit with GIM has been made with a view to expand the consultant numbers who practise rheumatology with GIM.

Rheumatology is one of the few specialties where there is still a reasonable balance between the number of trainees and the availability of consultant posts in the UK.

In summary: rheumatology offers academic stimulation, clinical diversity, excellent career prospects and a good work-life balance.

Medical Care

Find out more about rheumatology and the services delivered by the specialty on Medical Care – the RCP’s online guide to service design.

Further information

Queries regarding the progress of a submitted application should be directed to the lead recruiter for this specialty. The lead recruiter for rheumatology in 2019 is London and KSS (LaKSS) Recruitment:

London and South East (LaSE) Recruitment
ST3/general queries General enquiries - https://lasepgmdesupport.hee.nhs.uk/support/tickets/new?form_1=true
Fitness to practise/Disability/GIS queries - confidential


Website http://www.lpmde.ac.uk/laserecruitment/

General / application queries

For general queries relating to areas such as eligibility criteria, making an application or the Oriel system, please contact the Specialty Recruitment Office via email at ST3medrecruitment@hee.nhs.uk.


This specialty uses the standard ST3 eligibility criteria, and does not accept candidates from any alternative training routes.

Please visit the am I eligible? section of this website for further information.

National single centre model

This specialty uses the single centre recruitment model.

You will not be required to give any preferences of particular regions when completing your application; you are applying purely for the specialty at that stage.

Later on, you will be required to give preferences of the available posts – at that point, you can opt to be considered for as many (or as few) post vacancies available nationally as you wish.

Lead region and single centre interviews

The specialty will nominate a particular region to act as lead for the round; this region is shown under the 'Who do I contact?' tab above. This lead region will review all applications, liaise with all candidates, host interviews, verify assessments, and make offers on behalf of all regions nationally.

Your application will be handled solely by the lead region throughout the entire round, up to the point where you receive and accept an offer; after which it will be transferred to the region where the post is based for pre-employment checks.

All interviews will be held at this lead region although the clinicians making up the interview panel will be drawn from a national background – ie not just from the host region.

Flexible portfolio training

New for 2019, this specialty will be participating in the ‘flexible portfolio training’ scheme, in the North West region. This protects one day a week (or 20% time equivalent across the year) for the trainee to work within clinical informatics that will aid their professional development. This is an opportunity to acquire and develop key skills and engage in meaningful project work, in a different environment, alongside time in training that will be the springboard to a consultant career.

Further details about the scheme, and the regions where this is available can be found by visiting the website https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/flexible-portfolio-training or by emailing flexibleportfoliotraining@rcplondon.ac.uk

It is possible that there could be changes between now and the interview period. Please bear this in mind when reviewing the information below, although in most cases it is not expected this will change, or any changes will be minimal.  You are advised to check back in closer to the time of interview. The date at the foot of this page shows when the page was last reviewed.

Interview content

You will spend approximately 10 minutes at each of the three interview stations, with three-to-five minutes' transfer time between each. Thus the overall time for the interview will be approximately 40-45 minutes.

Click on the relevant stations below for more information on the content of the interview.

Please note that this is subject to change, and will be confirmed by the date of interview.

Interview scoring

Appointable - automatic

If you are awarded a score of at least 3/5, for all marks given to you at your interview, then you will automatically be classed as appointable.

Not appointable - automatic

If any of the 12 scores awarded to you at interview are 1/5, this will reflect poor performance and an area of major concern.

If four or more of your 12 interview scores are of 2/5, this will reflect several areas of concern across your whole interview.

Should your interview assessment fall under either category above, the level of concern over your potential progression to ST3 will see your application classed automatically as not appointable.

Appointability subject to panel decision

In the event that your 12 interview scores contain one, two or three marks of 2/5 (and the rest 3/5 or above), your appointability status will be subject to discussion in the post-interview 'wash-up' meeting.

The clinicians who have interviewed you will discuss your general performance during the interview and any concerns or otherwise they have about your application as a whole.

Should they deem it appropriate, your application will be classed as appointable, and you can then be considered for post offers; whereas if they feel their concerns are too substantial for this outcome, they must class your application as not appointable, and it will progress no further in the current recruitment round.

Review vs automatic status

Please note there is no distinction made between candidates judged as appointable automatically, and those classed as appointable on review. Once deemed appointable it is only your overall score which will be used to determine ranking.

Total score calculation

After interview, a weighting is applied to the scores in each area, as well as the application form score, to give a 'total score'. This score determines your ranking which is used to inform how offers are made. The weighting of different sections, as well as the method by which your total score is established, can be seen by clicking on 'Total score calculation' below.

Please note that this is subject to change, and will be confirmed by the date of interview.

date of last review: 6 December 2018

As part of the process of applying to ST3, you may wish to gain an idea of how recruitment progressed in previous years for the various specialties participating in the nationally-coordinated recruitment.

To this end, we have published data dating back to 2013 (where this is available), based around four main areas:

  • Competition ratios - application numbers submitted to each specialty, along with the number of NTN and LAT posts available in each. It is worth noting that posts are subject to change throughout the round (increasing on average between 20-40%), and post numbers for this data are taken at the end of the round.

  • Shortlist scores - the scores awarded to all submitted applications, including average scores and distribution nationally.

  • Total scores - the total score awarded to all candidates who completed the full recruitment process for a specialty (application and interview), including some analysis of scores.

  • Post fill rates - the number of posts filled by region. 

We have published information for all specialties participating in our process that year; consequently not all specialties will have data in all cases.

Provisional post numbers

Specialty vacancy numbers are available in the table below, broken down by region and divided between substantive national training number (NTN) and locum appointment for training (LAT) posts.

It is the intention that initial post numbers for all regions will be published prior to the application opening date, although this cannot be guaranteed. Numbers will be updated as and when notifications are received from each region and will be checked later in the round when programme preferences are open for selection.

Numbers subject to change

Please be aware that it is not uncommon for vacancy numbers to change throughout the round.

More commonly, post vacancy numbers can increase as the round goes on (and confirmation of posts becomes available); but it is also possible that numbers can reduce as well. On average post numbers rise between 20-40% from the start to the finish of the round but this can vary greatly for individual specialty/region combinations.

It is possible that regions which do not have a post at the start of the round may declare one after applications have closed. Whilst we try and minimise instances of this, it is not always possible to predict vacancies so even if there appears not to be a vacancy in your preferred specialty/region combination, you may wish to consider applying in case one becomes available during the round; you can check with the region concerned if you wish to check on the likelihood of a post arising.

Generally, once a region enter a post into a round they would always have at least one post available and would only withdraw it in exceptional circumstances.

Round 1 Interview dates & posts

Region NTN posts LAT posts* Interview date(s)
East Midlands



London and KSS (lead)
20 March 2019 

East of England



London and KSS


Kent, Surrey & Sussex






North East



North West




North Western



South West







Thames Valley






West Midlands



Yorkshire & Humber









*English LATs

Please note, English regions do not recruit to LAT posts.

**Scotland post numbers

If you are interested in working in Scotland, a breakdown of post numbers by the four Scottish deaneries is available on the Scottish Medical Training website. This has details of all specialty training post numbers in Scotland, including specialties which are not part of the nationally-coordinated process.

Please note that whilst we endeavour to keep the Physician ST3 recruitment website up to date, the SMT website will always be the more accurate one where they differ.

† Regions taking part in flexible portfolio training

Trainees will be able to preference posts with or without the 'flexible portfolio training' option where available. For further information on acute internal medicine, and the distribution of regions to each pathway, please visit https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/flexible-portfolio-training